New research data showing Derbyshire has some of the UK's ‘worst roads’ is misleading, says council

New research which claimed Derbyshire had some of the “worst roads in England” has been strongly refuted, as the county council says the data is misleading.
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Car check company Motorscan analysed and calculated data from the Department for Transport based on the average percentage of roads requiring maintenance between 2018 and 2023. It claimed Derbyshire was in second place on the list for having the worst roads in the country. But Derbyshire County Council has hit back at the data, saying it gives a “distorted picture” and figures for different local authorities “are not comparable”.

The study found the Southend-on-Sea area had the worst roads in England. It was said this was because the area had an average percentage of B and C roads requiring maintenance of 24.6 per cent between 2018 and 2023 – the highest of any area in England.

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Derbyshire came in second place where 14.7 per cent of A roads were judged to require maintenance on average, and in the same period, 21.2 per cent of B and C roads were also found needing work.

The Lea Road landslip between Lea Bridge and Cromford. Photo by Eddie Bisknell.The Lea Road landslip between Lea Bridge and Cromford. Photo by Eddie Bisknell.
The Lea Road landslip between Lea Bridge and Cromford. Photo by Eddie Bisknell.

Other areas in the top ten included: Newham, Lambeth, Brent, Hammersmith and Fulham, Shropshire and Liverpool. Most of these are London boroughs. But a leading councillor at Derbyshire County Council said the authority surveys roads differently to other areas and said it maintains a much larger road network in comparison to other places on the list.

Councillor Charlotte Cupit, Derbyshire’s cabinet member for highways, said: “Like many surveys of this kind, the reality is you’re comparing very different areas which gives a very distorted picture. Things are never that simple so these figures and areas aren’t comparable.

“Unlike the other local authorities included in the survey data, we survey our roads differently, to meet the specific needs of our extensive rural, unclassified road network and to help us accurately check and prioritise the condition of each road for funding. This is noted in the Department for Transport’s data but is often overlooked by companies looking for a news story.

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“Here in Derbyshire, we maintain more than 3,500 miles of roads – a much bigger road network than a city or small London borough. We care for roads in the High Peak, with a much colder and wetter climate than areas in the south of the country, which takes its toll on the lifespan of the road surface.”

Councillor Cupit also said the county had been hit by exceptional weather in recent times, causing a knock-on effect on the roads. She added: “We are doing everything we can to make the money we get go as far as possible.

“This has included a £120 million capital programme of road resurfacing over the last three years, which these statistics don’t reflect, and a planned further £27 million capital programme this year. This month, despite the significant budget challenges facing the council, we’ve invested extra money to tackle pothole repairs as we recognise this is an important issue for our communities.”

Oliver Thompson, head of vehicle intelligence at Motorscan added: “With these results featuring areas from many different parts of the country, it shows that road maintenance is an issue all over."